My Healing Playlist #3: Top 8 Jazz Piano Albums
I count myself among the lucky ones with this open heart surgery recovery. I am walking nearly five miles a day. Playing some piano. Reading lots (actually finished my book club book 3 weeks early…that may never happen again.) Watching movies. Not taking anything stronger than Extra Strength Tylenol for the pain & with the exception of getting pretty tired every afternoon and losing track of my thoughts often, I feel really quite well.
I am being very well taken care of (that helps LOTS) and I am also finding more time than I can remember to listen to buckets of music. Many, many old CDs are being pulled off the shelf (I have over a thousand that I have collected over the years). I am rediscovering some of my all time faves. And it feels really good to be listening deeply again. Really good!
People love lists so I thought this week I’d share 8 of my all time must have jazz piano albums. I’m linking to the entire album because these are really meant to be consumed in their entirety, but if you just wanna buy a single track from each, that can certainly work. This is by no means the ‘greatest’ jazz piano records of all time list, just 8 of my all time faves. I have easily spent 1,000 hours listening to these CDs alone. Alone and with friends, these sounds have had a profound impact on the musician I am today. I hope you get as much pleasure from these as I have. Enjoy!
Bill Evans: Waltz For Debby
A live recording from the Village Vanguard, this is a classic and for good reason. It features the piano trio with Paul Motian and Scott LaFaro that was short-lived but changed the jazz trio format forever. Listen to how open and vital all three instruments are.
Kenny Werner: Guru
The compositions feel improvised and trust among the players is heard at every turn. To my ears, this is what a band is supposed to sound like, incredibly tight yet flowing like water.
Wynton Kelly: Full View
I spent way too many hours listening and learning Wynton’s piano solo on Autumn Leaves. It was an incredibly joyful time as a student….focusing on one thing for days, weeks, even months. Remember that?
Keith Jarrett: Standards, Vol. 1
My first real jazz piano teacher told me I needed to own this CD. My mom bought it for me. There is not a CD in my collection that hasn’t been spun more often than this one. ‘Nuf said.
Mulgrew Miller: Wingspan
This is a quintet recording but it features a bunch of Mulgrew’s originals and his incredible way with melody. I once was at a club watching Mulgrew play a blues. He played this incredible melody. I approached him on the break and asked him to show me what he had done. His response I’ll never forget, “ I don’t need to show you, it’s all on my records.” Listen and discover!
Paul Bley: Closer
All the pieces are 2-3 minutes long. They all feel like little pop vignettes. Simple, raw, and real. This trio had a huge influence on many pianists, including myself.
So so so so swinging!! Bottom line is that if you are not immediately a happier person when you hear the impeccable swing of OP with Ray Brown holding down the bass….I think you may also be needing to check your heart. It just feels so good. Don;t think, just listen and do a little shuffle dance around your living room. It’ll make you smile, promise.
Herbie is one of my all time faves. This CD is a bit aggro for most first time jazz listeners but if you just give it time it will all start to make sense. The Afro/Latin rhythm section was the big draw for me. It was my initial inspiration for digging deeper into African music and all the incredible grooves that originated on that continent. Get yer groove on with this one.
Have you checked out my other Healing Playlists?